Hello &

Hello &

Wentworth Earl Miller III

Wentworth Earl Miller III



Thursday, November 17, 2016

ATTITUDE Magazine Interview 2016 (Complete)


1. With ‘superheroes’ more popular than ever – with the massive Marvel cinematic universe and of course DC’s Legends of Tomorrow - to what do you attribute the popularity of such characters and shows? What is it about the real world today that has created such an appetite for fictional superheroes (even if, like Captain Cold, the ‘hero’ label is ill-fitting)?

It comes down to difference. I think. I think that's what most superhero arcs are about. Basically. Someone starts out being penalized because they're outside the norm, "other," then they discover that the very thing that makes them different is what's going to save the world. Apparently comic books have a massive LGBTQ fan base. I feel like that's probably not a coincidence.

2. Today’s superheroes are also more flawed than ever, more human - perhaps just as invincible as ever but certainly not infallible. Jessica Jones is probably the best example of this. Why do you think there has been this change in the way we see heroes presented?

I think more and more we're expecting to see, or maybe even demanding to see, some reflection of ourselves onscreen. So it makes sense that our superheroes gradually become more like us. More flawed. More human. Struggling to do the right thing. Not always knowing what that is. Sometimes that's the whole point of the story. Figuring out what "right" is. In a given situation.

3. Do you think that the popularity of shows like Legends of Tomorrow is based on audiences’ optimism – in that they show a world in which good, but flawed, people continue to fight the good fight – or are they ultimately pessimistic, in that we, the audience, is consoling itself with comic book worlds because the real world is so painful and difficult to deal with?

I don't know. Both? I'm not an expert in the genre. But I would say that yes, comic books and movies are ultimately meant to reflect an optimistic perspective. That good does triumph over evil. Eventually. But before that happens evil seems to have a pretty good time. At least according to Hollywood. And I feel like we're invited to revel in that as well.

4. How do you feel about the state of the world today? Are you more of an optimist or a pessimist?

The first. Usually. I'd like to believe - I choose to believe - that people will do the right thing. I choose to believe that if you strand two people on an island in the middle of the ocean, who hate each other, for whatever reason, and you make their survival dependent on them getting along, eventually they will. I mean, that's Earth. The island is Earth, the ocean is space. We just haven't decided to sit in that perspective yet. Or been forced to.

4a. Given how divided America looks to an outsider – the chasm between Trump supporters and Clinton supporters, the seemingly never-ending number of black men and women killed by the police, the divide between pro-gun and anti-gun – how divided does America feel from the inside?

That's a conversation with a lot of moving parts. What I can say is, I've worked outside the U.S. and I've traveled outside the U.S. And no country is perfect. They all have their problems.

5. How do you think these divisions can be healed or are they so structural to the fabric of America that they will only get deeper and more disfiguring?

I think cultivating empathy is key. Exposing ourselves - repeatedly, consistently - to people who are not the same as we are is key. If I'm living in a small town and the only experience I have of another group - Muslim, trans, what have you - is via television and the websites I go to because they echo me back to me in a way that's comfortable, and comforting, how am I going to learn what it is to walk in their shoes? I'm not. I have to be willing - and motivated - to venture beyond my own backyard. I have to make that choice.

5a. Has the “American Dream” been replaced by an “American Nightmare”?

Whatever the situation is, I don't think anyone's ready to throw in the towel just yet. Myself included.

6. Away from the cameras, what was your personal coming out journey like?

It was a long road. I did it in my own way. And my own time. When I was ready. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually. When I had a support system in place. I think that's critical. To lay a solid foundation first and then make the big life decisions.

6a. Is looking at your coming out through the prism of a career-choice erroneous? Was your decision more personal than professional?

Coming out - coming out publicly - had nothing to do with my professional life. I spent my 20s and early 30s focused on my career, looking to make my mark. Everything else took a backseat. Friends, family, community. That all came second. But then I moved into my 40s and there was this reversal. Now career comes last and people come first. Speaking my truth, being in integrity, being in alignment with myself. These are the priorities now. I don't think I've ever been more interested in people. And less interested in Hollywood.

7. Regardless of your motives, many gay actors remain in the closet today in a bid to protect their careers and not alienate ‘middle-America’ – though clearly this is changing, albeit not as speedily as we liberals would like to imagine. Why do you think homophobia is so engrained in some people? And to what extent is the system – Hollywood, agents, publicists, managers etc – who discourage their clients to be open – part of the problem?

I think the issue might be Hollywood. I spent six years as a temp working for studio and network execs. As an assistant. And I got to spend a lot of time with these people. I got to see them behind the scenes. And most of them are fear-based. I don't think the average exec decides not to hire openly gay actors because they hate gay people. Hollywood is a business. It's corporate. It's about profit. And if I'm an exec and I'm trying to please my corporate masters and guarantee a big opening weekend - and you only get one shot, you know, at the box office - and I want to keep a roof over my head and I have to choose between hiring a straight actor for the lead in my movie and an actor who's openly gay, I'm going to go with the straight actor because I don't want to risk alienating various demographics. Not because I hate gay people. That's my take. I could be wrong.

8. When did you last experience homophobia, can you describe what happened, and how did it make you feel?

It was probably on my official Facebook page. I manage it myself, and I like to read the comments whenever I can. And most of them are lovely. It's a very supportive space. But every so often there's a "die fag." And it's always a surprise. But I just remind myself that I'm the blank screen on which some stranger is projecting their shit. Those comments are aimed at me and seemingly about me but really those people are writing about themselves. That's their work. Not mine.

9. As someone of mixed race/dual-heritage, how do you feel when you see on the news that another young black man has been shot by the police?

I'm not resonating with "dual-heritage." I can't divide my heritage in two. But to answer your question, it makes me tired. And sad. And angry. And frustrated. And I'd like to believe that I'd still be feeling all of those feelings even if I wasn't mixed race.

9a. Why do you think there are so many shootings? Is it as simple as American police forces being institutionally racist – and if not, why not?

There must be a million answers to that question. From what I've read, the militarization of the police - the intentional militarization - is part of it. It's like if I'm writing a screenplay. I'm not going to give one of my characters a gun unless I plan for them to use it.

10. You’ve been honest and open about your depression – which I really admire (as someone who endures it myself) – because it does help in removing the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues. How would you describe depression to someone who hasn’t experienced it?

Well then you know the thing about depression - one of the things - is it's hard to describe. It's really hard to put into words. It's also different for everyone. And the fact that you can't get across what this thing is to other people, it's incredibly frustrating. It just adds to the feeling of isolation. That said, I recently did a video collaboration with The Mighty and we tried to capture a taste of what depression can be like. For some people. It's on youtube.

10a. Do you feel that you wouldn't be the creative person you are today without having suffered from depression? Which is to say, without sounding too grandiose, does pain beget art?

I don't know. I'd hesitate to make depression sound romantic in any way. Because it's not. It's devastating. But it's also given me material. Yes. It forced me to learn how to turn straw into gold. Creatively. To survive. A lot of my writing - first the screenplays and now the personal essays I'm posting - they speak to things I've gone through. Painful things. Putting that down on paper - that's been healing. Sharing my writing with other people - healing. Knowing some of them are finding healing when they read something I've written, knowing they're not alone - that's healing too. Self-expression is so important. Via whatever medium is available to you. Just find something that works for you and start the process of getting that thing inside you that's causing you pain, out.

11. The stigma surrounding admitting to having mental health issues is, in my opinion, connected to a fear of looking weak, or being vulnerable?

Could be. I agree about the fear around being weak. Or being perceived as weak. But I don't think of weak and vulnerable as the same thing. To me vulnerable is being emotionally open. Porous. I don't mind if people think of me as vulnerable. I think being vulnerable is essential if I'm going to take an interest in something other than myself. But I've had people confuse that quality for weakness. Especially in this business. Then I have to bring out the sword.

11a. Why is it, do you think, that we (generally) view vulnerability with such disdain/anxiety/fear? In one of her famous Ted Talks, Brene Brown famously talks of how vulnerability is necessary to those who live ‘wholeheartedly’. How hard, or easy, do you find it to be vulnerable?
(FYI, The Ted Talk is here: https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_bro...)

Vulnerability takes practice. Speaking for myself. Because the world can be a scary place. For the queer community, for people of color, for queer people of color. Staying open, putting myself in someone else's shoes when it takes work and consciousness and courage just to stand in my own. All of that takes practice. And intention.

12. If, reading this article, there is a gay teenager struggling with their sexuality, or being bullied because of it, or considering suicide as a result of their situation, what would say to them?

You know, I would say what others have said: It gets better. One day you'll find your tribe. You just have to trust that people are out there waiting to love you and celebrate you for who you are. In the meantime, the reality is you might have to be your own tribe. You might have to be your own best friend. That's not something they're going to teach you in school. So start the work of loving yourself. Make sure you talk to yourself, in your head and out loud, like you talk to your best friend. Or you'd want your best friend to talk to you.

13. You experienced toxic digital vitriol when a meme mocked your weight gain. How did you feel about that at the time, and how do you feel about it now?

At the time it was upsetting. But out of that came something positive. Several positives. First I was able to practice self-expression and get it - the upset - out of me and down on paper. Then when I shared it, people responded. A lot of people. That's what I was talking about before. That self-expression can be of service to you but it can also benefit other people too.

13a. Why do you think people can be so cruel? Why do you think that body-shaming is so prevalent nowadays – in society at large and in the gay community especially?

I think some of it has to do with people believing - all people, not just the community you're referring to - that if you want to feel better about yourself you need to tear someone else down. I don't think it works that way. Disempowering you isn't going to empower me. Not for long. It might feel good for like 5 seconds - ripping you a new one - but then I'm back to feeling like shit. So I have to do it again. And again. And again. It's an addiction. I'm always after the next fix. Because I haven't addressed the core issue, which is why I feel like shit in the first place.

14. It would appear (to the uninitiated, perhaps) that acting is for extroverts and writing is for introverts. As an actor and a writer, do you think this (arguably sweeping) generalisation has any basis in truth?

No. I think there are actors, extroverts, and actors who are extroverts. I'd put myself in the first category. As for writers, I don't know. You could probably say something similar.

15. What one thing would you like more of in your life that you feel would improve your quality of life? Why?

Lavender oil. I put a little on the insides of my wrists every morning. It's the only scent I wear. And I'm almost out.

Thank you Went dear for sharing your amazing interview with us.  Your words are always so very insightful, interesting and sensible. 

Went I'm very proud  of you and I feel humbled to be apart of your life because you feel comfortable to share your thoughts and feelings on your FB Page.

What a wonderful blessing you are! 
A whole lot of love to you Went honey ... a whole lot of love!!!! 


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